Preparations for war in Latin America

Por Venezuela Real - 17 de Abril, 2008, 18:07, Categoría: Temas Militares

Kenneth Rijock
April 17, 2008

Weapons purchases, some covert and well concealed, seem to indicate that Venezuela is planning for a future armed conflict. Sometimes, the truth is located deep within sources where one least expects to find it. One such surprise that I found this week was a new criminal case, filed in US District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, against a reputed Special Air Services veteran, for a violation of the Arms Export Control Act. Defendant Peter Spitz is charged with attempting to sell, through his company, Russian Aircraft Services LLC, thirty Mi-24 helicopter gunships, several Mi-8T transport helicopters, and an engine for a SU-27 jet fighter, to a purchaser allegedly acting on behalf of a certain senior governmental minister in Zimbabwe. The case came about as a result of information supplied by HM Revenue and Customs to US authorities concerning the defendant. The Mi-24 helicopters were to be sold for $750,000 each. What is interesting is not the criminal case, but an important detail concerning Russian-made attack helicopters and Venezuela.

In support of the Criminal Complaint in this case is an affidavit, signed by Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Joseph Skidmore of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). Agent Skidmore details the efforts of the defendant, Skidmore to sell attack helicopters to a Confidential Informant. In response to a query regarding whether new Mi-24 attack helicopters could be purchased, he states in the affidavit:

    * "[X] stated that it was impossible for [Y] to understand that there was a huge demand for MIL helicopters because Venezuela has guaranteed to buy every helicopter that comes out of the factories for the next five (5) years..."

Any government that has promised to buy the entire output of a facility making military aircraft for the next five years obviously has a long-range plan to drastically expand its offensive aviation capability. The costs of purchase, and subsequent operational maintenance, will be extremely high.

I am more troubled by this planned acquisition than I am by Venezuela's announced efforts to purchase submarines, for attack helicopters are, by their very nature, offensive weapons that can support a military campaign far beyond Venezuela's borders. is this an effort to match the aviation assets of neighboring Colombia? We cannot say, but when the drums of war start beating like this, ordinary risk management computation methods become meaningless, and country risk calculation goes off the charts.

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